News Release

Smoking causes stroke to occur nearly a decade earlier, study finds

October 3, 2011

Not only are smokers twice as likely to have strokes, they are almost a decade younger than non-smokers when they have them, according to a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

Between January 2009 and March 2011, researchers studied 982 stroke patients (264 smokers and 718 non-smokers) at an Ottawa prevention clinic. They found the average age of stroke patients who smoked was 58, compared to age 67 for non-smokers.

The Ottawa Hospital study, led by principal investigators Dr. Mike Sharma and Dr. Robert Reid, found smokers have double the risk of a stroke caused by a dislodged blood clot (ischemic stroke) and four times the risk of a stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke) than the non-smoking population.

“The information from this study provides yet another important piece of evidence about the significance of helping people stop smoking,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, one of the study’s authors. “It also alerts the neurology community to the importance of addressing smoking in stroke patients.”

“Stroke is preventable,” said Dr. Sharma, Deputy Director of the Canadian Stroke Network. “This study highlights the sizeable role smoking has on stroke. Quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, following a healthy diet and being physically active significantly reduce the risk of stroke.”

Please see the media release from the Canadian Stroke Network for further information.